July 29, 2009
ASPCA Offers Nation’s First Animal Cruelty CSI Workshop
The ASPCA, in collaboration with the University of Florida's William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine, recently offered the nation's first Veterinary Forensics Crime Scene Investigations Workshop to help increase the number of professionals trained in the forensic investigation of animal cruelty cases and aid in the prosecution of crimes against animals.
The three-day workshop, which took place from June 17-19, offered students-many of whom were law enforcement officers, veterinarians, forensic specialists and emergency responders-a hands-on training experience. Through fieldwork and classroom instruction, students learned to detect and properly document a crime scene, including the collection of evidence, photography, mapping, sketching and the excavation of remains.
The program reaches beyond a workshop, as well. The University of Florida will soon be offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses in veterinary forensic sciences. The program will receive an initial gift of $150,000 from the ASPCA and three years of support from our organization.
"The development of veterinary forensics is in a similar place now that human forensics was a few decades ago," says Dr. Melinda Merck, ASPCA Senior Director of Veterinary Forensics, who was on hand at the workshop with the ASPCA's Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation Unit. "Now there are special prosecutors and special courts that focus on violent crimes-I expect that is where we'll eventually get with animal cruelty."
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